March 20, 2018- Undercover with Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. An undercover investigation by Channel 4 News reveals how Cambridge Analytica secretly campaigns in elections across the world. Bosses were filmed talking about using bribes, ex-spies, fake IDs and sex workers. This two part video explains the nefarious underworld of politics in the USA and elsewhere.
March 16, 2018 – Environmental Health News –
Women with higher levels of the herbicide are more likely to have shorter pregnancies, according to a study of pregnant mothers living in Indiana’s Corn Belt. The consequences for their babies can be lifelong.
Women with high levels of glyphosate—the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer—were more likely to have a shorter pregnancy, according to a new study.
Shorter pregnancies can leave babies on a path to reduced learning and brain development. The new study is the first to study glyphosate in pregnant U.S. women and pregnancy length, and suggests exposure to the chemical is widespread and it may be setting some children up for a lifetime of challenges.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide—the most widely used herbicide in the world. About 300 million pounds are applied each year in the U.S. alone, with much of the application in the Midwest corn and soybean states.
The chemical has come under fire as it’s been linked to a host of health problems, including cancer, birth defects, damaged DNA, endocrine disruption and reproductive issues. There are currently hundreds of lawsuits from farmers and others claiming that Roundup gave them cancer. A federal judge in San Francisco is reviewing the science behind the chemical’s link to cancer.
In the new study, researchers tested 71 pregnant women in Central Indiana. They found more than 90 percent of the women have glyphosate in their urine, and women with higher levels of the chemical were more likely to have shorter pregnancies. The results were published last week in the journal Environmental Health.
They also tested the women’s drinking water—none of which had detectable levels of glyphosate. However, women who lived in rural areas had much higher levels.
“This suggests the inhalation of contaminated air or dust may represent another exposure pathway for higher urine glyphosate levels in rural areas,” the authors wrote.
Iowa and central Illinois, Indiana and Ohio make up the core of the nation’s corn belt, producing half of the nation’s crop.
Lead author, Shahid Parvez, an assistant professor and researcher at the Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health, said in addition to inhalation, exposure from foods is the most likely culprit. He said none of the women studied worked in agriculture.
“Even though this study was in Central Indiana, if diet is the route by which everyone is exposed this is not necessarily a regional issue but a national or global issue,” he said, adding that there was some evidence from a survey of the women that eating organic curbed their glyphosate levels.
Amy Cornell, president of the Agribuiness Council of Indiana, stood by the safety of glyphosate use in her state, which has more than 5 million acres of planted corn, and almost 6 million acres of soybeans, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More than 90 percent of U.S. corn, soy and canola are genetically modified to be glyphosate resistant.
February 1, 2018- © John Blair, valleywatch.net editor. Editor’s note: Valley Watch has singularly opposed these plants since as early as 2012 when they were first conceived.
Earlier in the decade area residents were told they were going to have not one but two giant fertilizer plants built in the region. One in Mt. Vernon and one in Rockport, both already among the most toxic polluted communities on earth according to the EPA Toxic Release Inventory.
Those fertilizer plants were designed first to produce ammonium nitrate, the same chemical that Timothy McVeigh used to blow up the Murrah Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City in 1996, killing hundreds including children. The end product was said to be considerably safer by the addition of liquid urea which makes ammonium nitrate more stable.
Midwest Fertilizer, the Mt. Vernon plant, ran into trouble early on because their primary sponsor was company named Fatima, a Pakistani business that was known to supply ammonium nitrate to use in Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) against American Troops in Afghanistan. Some public outcry over that was assuaged when Indiana Governor Mike Pence gave his approval for Indiana Finance Authority officials to issue what were called “disaster bonds” to finance around $1.2 billion of the plant’s more than $2.5 billion cost.
It was reported that even though the Indiana Finance Authority would issue those “tax exempt” bonds under the county’s jurisdiction, the County and State would not assume any liability for the bonds and only the backers of the plant would be responsible for paying off the bonds issued by IFA.
In Rockport, a similar plant named Ohio Valley Resources was proposed immediately north of what was then the proposed Indiana Gasification plant (A $3.5 billion proposal that Valley Watch and our Allies, Citizens Action Coalition and Sierra Club defeated after an eight year battle). It was being promoted by an Illinois farmer who ended up partnering with a Chinese financial firm for several years.
In both cases, Valley Watch was alone in our dogged opposition to these plants because both of those communities already suffered from extraordinary toxic pollution from their existing industries. And it was well known that these large fertilizer plants are always huge toxic emitters in their own right, emitting on average over 8 million pounds of ammonia according to Valley Watch research.
Well, folks we have tremendous news for your health and environment. Both of these proposals are not likely to ever see the light of day even though the Indiana Department of Environmental Management fully issued permits for their construction and operation as far back as 2013.
In Midwest Fertilizer’s case, they were just dealt what is probably a lethal blow by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS issued a Notice Of Proposed Adverse Determination which essentially means that they are not eligible for Municipal Tax Exemption under IRS rules. http://www.municreditnews.com/muni-credit-news-week-january-8-2018/
IRS’s ruling which Midwest can appeal removes the significant incentive of “Tax Exemption” that investors often seek, especially for such high risk projects that have been on the drawing boards for more than half a decade already.
In Ohio Valley Resources’ case, there was zero action on the plant after the plant’s sponsor lost its financial backing. It had its air and operation permit revoked in January because they failed to begin construction after even a couple of permit extensions.
Valley Watch has tracked and opposed these facilities since they were first announced in 2012. At that time, each of them claimed they would produced enough fertilizer to supply the needs of there midwest. There were other plants of similar size that actually got built. It is our understanding that at least one was built in Iowa making their claims specious unless they were being built for the export market and not the USA.
Valley Watch is proud to add these two facilities to the numerous battles we have won over the thirty seven years we have been in existence. We are a completely volunteer group that is dedicated to “protecting the public health and environment of the lower Ohio River Valley.” We now count our record at 37 and 4 which is remarkable for volunteer group.
We welcome you to stand proud with us as we continue our fights, the current one being a $2.5 billion coal to diesel plant proposed for Dale, Indiana that just recently submitted it’s Air Pollution Permit Application to IDEM which is under the direction of Indiana Governor, Eric Holcomb, who like Trump and Pence is dedicated to the promotion of coal in Indiana.
But that does not bothers us since we have taken on many much larger entities and won.
December 17, 2017, by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic
This video sadly speaks for itself. Ivanka Trump should be forced to watch this and then tell us she has done all she can to convince her father that Climate Change is REAL!
November 7, 2017-By James Conca in Forbes Magazine
The most comprehensive report to date on the health effects of environmental pollution shows that filthy air, contaminated water and other polluted parts of our environment kill more people worldwide each year than almost everything else combined – smoking, hunger, natural disasters, war, murder, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
It’s no wonder then that the number of contaminated water-related deaths in Puerto Rico is expected to climb into the thousands.
In addition to the human tragedy, this pollution costs us well over $4 trillion in annual losses, or 6% of global GDP.
According to the study, 9 million people every year, one in every six premature deaths, are caused by diseases from toxic exposures in the environment. That’s 20 times more than all wars. Dr. Philip Landrigan, Dean of Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the lead author of the report, noted, ‘There’s been a lot of study of pollution, but it’s never received the resources or level of attention as, say, AIDS or climate change’.
China knows this better than any other country. Over 300,000 people die each year from toxic emissions coming out of coal-fired power plants alone. And silica manufacturing and waste from computer chip and solar array manufacturing is a growing health problem.
In fact, poor countries in south Asia and in Africa sustain the majority of these pollution deaths. In many of these countries, especially India, pollution causes a fourth of all deaths, putting a huge burden on their developing economies. Even indoor burning of biomass in poor countries has become a global health epidemic. Continue reading
UPDATE: The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission granted Vectren everything they wanted, ignoring the evidence and facts presented by Valley Watch and Citizens Action Coalition. Rates will rise.
July 18. 2107- by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor (disclaimer- I own 198 shares of Vectren stock (VVC)
One would think that a major electric utility that can afford to pay its CEO almost $6 million per year and charges among the highest rates in the nation, would at least do well in “customer satisfaction.” Not so with Vectren Corporation, which ranked third from last in the J.D. Power 2017 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study. http://www.jdpower.com/press-releases/jd-power-2017-electric-utility-residential-customer-satisfaction-study
Already Vectren has huge electric rates for their residential customers that must subsidize the rates of large industrial customers as CEO Carl Chapman has stated to me personally, “our industrial rates are competitive.”
I responded, “Well, that pisses me off since myself and lots of other people struggle just to pay your high residential rates.”
Should I call it a subsidy? Vectren would likely say no but that is what it is residential customers pay just to have their meter read and lines maintained. Currently, they pay upwards of $.12/kilowatt hour, about twice what industrial customers pay. When the “Fixed Charge” is added in their rates can go as high as $1/kWh as happened at the Valley Watch office last month because we do everything we can to conserve and only used 18 kW but had a bill over $20 on our three phase meter that heats and cools our office.
Presently, Valley Watch and the Citizens Action Coalition are engaged in an effort to mitigate Vectren’s latest rip-off, a $514 million rate increase that will fall mainly on residential and small commercial customers due to a $13+ increase in the Fixed Charge which together with absorbent usage charges could make Vectren the highest ratepayers outside Hawaii in the nation. And for what? Updated, new and Mercedes style infrastructure that is hard to prove is even needed. Of course, Vectren claims that it is for safety and reliability.
CAC and Valley Watch have presented testimony in our challenge to their current increase which will most likely be ignored by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission since Vectren and the “official agency” The Office of Utility Consumer Counselor that is supposed to represent customer’s interests have already “agreed” on a settlement and did so prior to even hearing testimony from the public at the sham public hearing held May 2 in Evansville. Continue reading
June 1, 2017 – by John Blair valleywatch.net editor
In anticipation of Stupid Donald Trump exiting the the Paris Climate Accord in a couple hours, I am posting this prophetic song written by David Gilmour of Pink Floyd ©1994 titled “She Will Take It Back, Someday.” The song and music video depicts chaos on the Earth and the destruction of mankind because we humans have failed to recognize the planet on which we live as our lifeblood. Enjoy while you can.
April 30, 2017 by EcoWatch
The independent space agency, which advocates for DIY space exploration, launched a weather balloon 90,000 feet above Earth carrying a rude tweet directed at Trump’s frequently used Twitter handle, literally taking the act of protesting the president to new heights:
“@realDonaldTrump LOOK AT THAT, YOU SON OF A BITCH”
The ballon lifted off on April 12, or Yuri’s Night, named for Yuri Gagarin, the first human to launch into space.
The missive was in reference to the words of the late Edgar Mitchell, NASA astronaut and sixth person to walk on the moon, who once said about his humbling experience in space:
“From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.'”
ASAN’s feat was also in solidarity with the upcoming March for Science on April 22, Earth Day.
In case you are wondering, it does not actually cost that much to send a tweet to space. The whole operation only set back ASAN $750 for two helium tanks, 160 cubic feet of helium, a camera and a balloon.
Trump’s reaction, if he were to see the suborbital slam, is sure to be priceless.
April 26, 2017 – by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor
Sabic Innovative Plastics, (Formerly GE Plastics) in Mt. Vernon, IN has decided to partially wean itself from the Vectren grid by building their own electrical and steam generation plant onsite. Their action frees up considerable capacity for Vectren, which still provides back up electricity for the giant plastics manufacturing facility east of Mt. Vernon.
For years and prior to the construction of the cogeneration plant, Sabic burned coal to generate steam used in the manufacture of a broad range of plastics including Lexan and Ultem. Sabic claims the cogeneration plant will create substantial environmental improvements in the region including a 35% reduction in Carbon Dioxide emissions and a 43% reduction in their “non-hazardous” waste primarily consisting of coal ash which previously had to be landfilled offsite. Sabic officially stopped using coal in January of this year.The cogeneration unit is fueled with natural gas from a new thirty mile pipeline which transverses the Ohio River running from Robards, KY.
One interesting fact we learned today was that the plant has about 25% higher generating capacity in the winter than in the summer due solely to ambient air temperature. In the winter, the plant is capable of producing more than 100 Megawatts while summer capacity is rated at 80 megawatts.
The plant originally began operations in 1960 by General Electric Company to produce a single product, Lexan but was purchased by Sabic in 2011.
In November, Vectren announced the pending retirement of their Warrick County facility Culley 2 as well their Posey County AB Brown plant, a move partially facilitated by the construction go the cogeneration plant.
March 22, 2017 – by Bob Henson in the Wunderblog of Weather Underground.com
Each day of every year, a quiet disaster unfolds in households and hospitals across the world. More than 10,000 lives are lost worldwide every 24 hours as a direct or indirect consequence of poor air quality. Bad air takes its toll quietly, with no need for the oversized drama of a hurricane or tornado. Sometimes air quality becomes so dangerous that it can’t be ignored. Much of the time, though, dangerous air goes about its dirty work with little attention from policymakers and the public.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has dubbed air pollution “the world’s largest single environmental health risk.” It is high time we treated the life-threatening aspects of dirty air, and the life-sustaining properties of a clean atmosphere, with the full appreciation they ought to have.
Figure 1. Los Angeles, CA, shrouded in late-afternoon smog as viewed from the Hollywood Hills. Griffith Observatory is at far left. Image credit: Diliff/Wikimedia Commons
Here at Weather Underground, we are taking steps in this direction by bringing air quality sensors into our 250,000-strong network of personal weather stations. We believe there is great power in being able to measure the quality of the air in one’s own neighborhood and to share that information with the world at large.
We are also ramping up our coverage of air pollution issues here at Category 6. Along with occasional guest authors, Jeff Masters and I will be exploring the many facets of air quality, including its effects on people and ecosystems and how it intersects with both weather and climate. For example, Jeff will soon be posting an overview of the health hazards posed by poor air quality. This topic was highlighted on March 6 by a distressing report from the World Health Organization: Each year, respiratory infections linked to indoor and outdoor air pollution and second-hand smoke take the lives of some 570,000 children under the age of 5. That’s roughly 10% of all deaths in that age group each year.
Figure 2. Schoolchildren in Delhi, India, wore masks as schools re-opened on November 10, 2016, after three days of closure due to severe smog. Image credit: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images.
For both children and adults, the air indoors can be just as dangerous as the air outdoors. Each year more than 4 million people die prematurely as a consequence of household air pollution—largely the result of inefficient, smoke-belching cookstoves that are used routinely in developing nations. This toll is even higher than the WHO’s estimate of 3 million premature deaths a year from outdoor air pollution.
Even the most pristine places can be touched by the global spread of air pollution. In Antarctica, scientists have found traces of lead trapped within ice cores. Using isotopes (variations in the number of neutrons within an element), researchers were able to track the heavy-metal pollution to industrial activity in Australia as far back as the late 1800s.
Today, as much as 25% of the sulfate and mercury pollution along the U.S. West Coast comes from emissions from coal-fired power plants in China. These pollutants take just five to eight days to cross the Pacific on the prevailing upper-level westerly winds.
Figure 3. Motorcyclists ride through thick smog on January 9, 2017, in Zhengzhou, China. The nation’s Central Meteorological Observatory issued a yellow alert for smog in Zhengzhou on Sunday night, January 8. Visibility dropped below 50 meters (160 feet) in parts of the city on Monday morning. Image credit: VCG/VCG via Getty Images.
March 1, 2017 – by David Schlissel, IEEFA. Editor’s note: Valley Watch and our colleagues, Citizens Action Coalition and Sierra Club have challenged the Edwardsport plant since 2006 before the IURC and IDEM. Sadly, we failed to stop the plant. David Schlissel has served as our “expert before the IURC on several of the “dockets.”
If the “clean coal” integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology promoted at home and abroad by the U.S. utility industry sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is.
That’s why Moody’s Investors Services warned the other day that it might downgrade the creditof Mississippi Power Company because of the declining competitiveness of the company’s Kemper County IGCC plant.
IGCC is experimental and expensive and may well always remain so. It aims to merge three separate procedures into one unified but exceptionally complicated operation.
Step one turns coal into what’s known as synthetic gas, or “syngas,” which is said to be more environmentally friendly to burn than coal itself. Step two removes carbon dioxide from the syngas (rather than taking it out “post-combustion,” as is traditional in coal-fired generation). Step three fires the gas and generates electricity.
Two IGCC plants have been built in the U.S. in recent years: Edwardsport Generating Station in Indiana and Kemper County Energy Facility in Mississippi. Each is a distinctive first-of-their-kind plant placed into production on a commercial scale at huge costs to ratepayers—by Duke Energy, which owns Edwardsport, and by Mississippi Power, the Southern Company subsidiary that runs Kemper.
PROMOTED AS THE FUTURE OF CLEAN POWER GENERATION IN AMERICA, NEITHER HAS LIVED UP TO ITS HYPE.
Both Edwardsport and Kemper have proven far more expensive to build than originally proposed.
Edwardsport, which began construction in 2008 with an estimated budget of $1.985 billion, cost $3.55 billion in official construction costs by the time Duke began to put it online in 2013. That cost overrun, big as it is, actually understates the full price of the plant because it doesn’t include the more than $600 million Duke was allowed by regulators in Indiana to charge customers ahead of activation. Continue reading
January 17, 2017 – by Erica Peterson, WFPL Radio
As details about the plan emerged over the past few weeks, Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely defended the rules and the process, saying it included “full public participation.”
But documents obtained by WFPL News show the process was far from public and instead included more than a year of backroom meetings — under both former Gov. Steve Beshear and Gov. Matt Bevin — with representatives of the utility industry. During that time, documents show the regulations were significantly revised and weakened.
Environmental attorney Tom FitzGerald of the Kentucky Resources Council, who has spent more than 44 years working in the state, and oftentimes on workgroups with members of industry and regulators to craft regulations, said to his knowledge, such one-sided input from industry is unprecedented in recent years.
“I think it’s unconscionable, and I think it does not reflect well on how little value [the regulators] place on public involvement in the development of regulations that are intended to protect the public,” FitzGerald said.
Representatives from the Energy and Environment Cabinet declined an interview request. In response to emailed questions, spokesman John Mura defended the cabinet’s regulatory process.
“As a part of the pre-KRS 13A deliberative process of regulation development, it is common for the state to informally discuss regulatory matters with the regulated sector that are directly impacted by those regulations,” Mura wrote.
January 20, 2017 – by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor
He could nominate Judge Merrick Garland today without hesitation and with that easy gesture, he would show deference to all of America as he outlined in his short speech today.
After all, Garland already has support of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Orrin Hatch, who called Garland a perfect person for President Obama to nominate back about this time last year only to renege when Senate Majority figure head, Mitch McConnell decided that no one Obama might nominate is crazy enough.
A Trump nomination of Garland would show that he is intent on following his own Inaugural Address depicting unity of all Americans. If Trump nominates one of the crazies on the list of potentials he released last summer, we could all be in for the ride of our lives. and that is no way to unify America.
December 28, 2016 – by James Bruggers in the Louisville Courier Journal
After being the target of critical editorials in Kentucky’s two largest newspapers, Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet fired back Thursday with an internet posting that argues its proposed rules for coal combustion waste actually strengthen – not weaken – protection of the environment and public health.
The Naturally Connected blog from the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection also takes aim at the media, arguing news coverage and editorials “mislead readers about the rules’ intent and potential effect on the health and welfare of Kentuckians.” By incorporating new regulations on the management of coal-burning wastes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Kentucky DEP argues, “the proposed state regulations would maintain and in some cases increase environmental and public protections, not diminish them.”
But one of the state’s top environmental attorneys quickly countered that it is state officials who are misleading the public with Orwellian arguments along the lines of “war is peace” and “ignorance is strength.”
Attorney Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council and an expert on Kentucky waste laws, called the state’s argument “pure sophistry,” which means the use of fallacious arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving.
The new EPA based rule came after decades of fighting nationally over how ash and scrubber sludge should be handled. Coal ash contains contaminants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic, according to the EPA, and without proper management, these contaminants can pollute waterways, groundwater, drinking water, and the air.
Kentucky, among the nation’s biggest coal-burning waste generators, argues that the proposed regulations will require managing dust and storm water as well as monitoring groundwater and other requirements. DEP went on to say the agency “has and will exercise its authority to inspect these facilities to ensure compliance, investigate citizen complaints, and take enforcement action as necessary.” Continue reading
December 20, 2016-by John Blair valleywatch.net editor
On December 16, Vectren Corporation the monopoly electric utility that serves much of southwest Indiana released is latest Integrated Resource Plan outlining its plan to meet their electric customers’ power needs twenty years ahead to 2036. The plan was met with praise from Valley Watch and others who care about the enormous level of coal pollution in the Tri-State region centered in Evansville.
In brief, Vectren proposes to retire three of their four wholly owned coal units by 2024 and to “exit” its contractural operating agreement with Alcoa in Warrick County on a coal unit there. They also announced their intention to build a new Combined Cycle natural gas plant to make up for the lost generation capacity by shutting down the coal units.
The whole IRP can be accessed at Vectren.com/irp